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OPINION | OLD NEWS: Co-workers teased Arkansas Gazette cops-beat reporter about running for constable in 1922

by Celia Storey | July 18, 2022 at 2:36 a.m.
Old pals Joe Wirges (left) and Heinie Loesch regard their drinks in 1940, during an Arkansas Gazette staff party. (Democrat-Gazette archives)

The more I think about our July 11 Old News, the more I want to share everything the Arkansas Gazette had to say about its famous cops-beat reporter's run for office in 1922.

Fortunately, this will mean writing about the same subject several weeks in a row, possibly a whole month of Mondays, if I do it right.

Last week (see we learned that this cops reporter, Joe Wirges, was so associated with his job that people called him "Joe Gazette." He worked 80-hour weeks for pitiable pay, which made him almost a colleague to the people he covered — police, criminals and jailers.

But for some reason in July 1922, he made a move as though actually to join them: He filed as a candidate for constable of Big Rock Township.

His co-worker Heinie Loesch was asked or appointed himself or pretended to be Wirges' campaign manager. There also was a putative publicity manager, but we know not who.

Loesch was the Gazette sporting editor, which means he wrote about sports. His prose style's so vivid and comical I might confidently say that I hear his voice in most of what the paper wrote of Wirges' run, but I can't. Other writers on that staff were equally steeped in King James and could also cut whole cloth.

Here's a bit of what Loesch or whoever wrote July 12, 1922. He or they set a scene in which Wirges shows up to a baseball game and his colleagues cheer and stamp their feet so the grandstand shakes as he ascends. Gazette wire editor Claire Ritter calls out, "Speech! Speech!" And then:

"Mr. Wirges lifted his hand and eyes deprecatingly, indicating that despite the prominence he has attained and the further prominence he hopes to attain, there still is one greater even than he. But he refused to make his speech."

Did you picture all that? Good. Until I say otherwise, what follows below is verbatim from that July 12 Gazette except for the vintage typos, which I will correct. ("Darb" is not a typo; it means something superlative, according to the unabridged Merriam-Webster I pay to use online.)


Heinie Loesch, Mr. Wirges' campaign manager, said yesterday that unless Joe gets a few speaking dates on the outside there ain't going to be no candidate from the Gazette office. Mr. Loesch, ably assisted by the Wirges publicity manager, has written a campaign speech which is a darb. It deals with 100-proof Americanism, the constitutional privilege of a hot sun to operate on fermenting grapes, and all that sort of stuff.

Joe has learned the speech with gestures and everything, but he refuses to repeat it to anybody but Heinie. This, after a couple of dozen repetitions, has begun to set heavy on Heine's disposition, and Heinie put it out yesterday as an official managerial pronunciamento that it's an even break as to whether on August 8 the voters of Big Rock Township are going to be voting for Joe or viewing his remains.


A question which is now engaging the attention of the general staff at Mr. Wirges' headquarters is whether Joe, after his election, will be entitled to wear his police reporter's badge in addition to the constable's badge.

The constable's badge is a mild nickel-plated affair not more than an inch and a half in diameter, whereas Joe's police badge is an entirely different contraption. His police badge is the most stupendously colossal piece of personal adornment ever turned out, with the single exception of the cavalry cuirass of the Maharaja of Rajaputana. It conforms in size to the lid on a sewer manhole and is lettered up as prominently as a fire sale advertising banner. Also, it is gold plated, and when Joe smiles his well known golden-toothed smile over the edge of it, the tout ensemble looks like a bonanza strike on the Yukon. In short, Joe's police badge is a dude, not to mention a knockout.

Joe's Board of Strategy is withholding any opinion on the two-badge matter until after the election for fear that Joe may make an issue of the police badge. If that police badge gets into Joe's platform there won't be room for anything else.

* * *

Period, paragraph, three asterisks and we are back to 2022.

For your next taste of the humor lavished upon Joe Gazette by co-workers, below is a bit from the July 19, 1922, paper. I could not discover whether "ka-tish" was a typo, so I left it.


Dissension has sprung up in the camp of Joe Gazette Wirges, police reporter for the Gazette and candidate for Constable of Big Rock Township, with Mr. Wirges at apparently hopeless outs with his entire headquarters staff. ...

The dissension arose over a difference of opinion between Heinie and Joe as to the constable's job in general. According to Joe, about all a constable has to do is to wear a badge and a slouch hat, with other garments of course, and stick around the J.P. courts. Heinie has different ideas.

Heinie usually gets back to the fundamentals on any given proposition. Also, he is an investigator of antiquities. He can take the cue ball from any pool table in town and tell whether the ivory came from the skull of an infielder or an outfielder and what bush league was the original producer. So when Heinie went into the possibilities of the constable thing, he went in deep.

According to Heinie, the Lord High Constable of England, from which the present job derives, was right smart of an individual, and the original status of the office should be restored.

Joe yessed along: agreeing that the constable is a person of dignity and authority, outside of his home; to taste the wine at all royal hunt dinners, and to officiate as knight of the bath to any kings and other sovereign monarchs visiting his bailiwick — and then the conversation got to clothes.

According to Heinie, the constable's uniform should be considerably more ka-tish than this slouch hat-badge costume. Mr. Loesch's idea of the classic and traditional get-up is a leghorn hat cocked with a heron's plume and a diamond clasp, a silken doublet slashed with velvet in contrasting colors, a fourragere of gold cord, epaulettes, silk hose, silver-buckled court shoes and knee pants. Heinie had the picture and everything to prove that his layout was the right dope.

The candidate admitted that knee pants might be quite blah for a Lord High Constable of England 300 years ago, but not for Joe. And besides, he queried, whaddya gonna do in the winter when you have to wear the long kind that all lumps up around your legs anyway? And so forth and so on.

The kindest thing said on either side was Mr. Loesch's statement that Joe is off knee pants because he is knobby kneed.

The headquarters staff trails its bets along with Heinie; the consensus of thought being that we can't elect a constable but once every two years, and when we do, let's get us a natty one, not to say a knobby one. Joe, all hopped up over getting six letters yesterday, is threatening to run his own campaign and announced that if his publicity manager puts this piece in the paper, there wouldn't be any publicity manager.

Still, as Heinie said, Joe is beginning to see the light. He was noticed before the mirror yesterday with his pants pulled up knee high. Heinie is now looking up the question of what kind of garters Lord High Constable wears. Heinie says he hasn't found any dope yet, but he knows just by looking at Joe that they don't wear the Boston or Paris brands.

* * *

Next week: Candidate Wirges All Set for Speech-Making.


Print Headline: Jabs at Joe Gazette’s constable run


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